Day 30 towards Cape Horn - a good day's gentle sail, headed south...

Tuesday 20th November 2012

9pm We just came into moonshine dancing over the water as we sailed out from under a dark grey cloud - but all we had were a few drops of rain and some nice wind to sail by... We're making over 6kt almost due S and on deck it's beautiful - stars and moon dodging in and between the mainly small clouds... and a lovely refreshing breeze making up for the heat of the day. I've just been standing out on deck for quite a time, enjoying it all and relaxing, after unfurling the rest of the genoa in the fairly calm-looking conditions and then noticing the line of developing, dark-based cloud ahead.... Always a good idea to stay and make sure we don't get a sudden gusty strong wind as we pass beneath ... but, happily, this was almost a non-event!

With no wind display, other than the Windex at the top of the mast (giving apparent wind direction only), I'm guesstimating true wind strength and direction - this is where the Beaufort Scale comes into its own!! I got out the details earlier and wrote myself a big note to remind me. With just a very few, occasional white crests showing, that makes the wind Beaufort Force 3 (7-10kt) and when there are frequent white horses, that's Force 4 (11-16kt). By the time the wind waves are 'moderate', with many whie crests... Force 5 (17-21kt) - time to reef down, if not already done! (In practice, I'm "driving by the seat of my pants" just now - if we heel too much, time to reduce sail - simple!!)

It's been a very pleasant, easy day - plenty of cloud around, a couple of short showers, but nothing strong. I saw a grey raincloud nearby a while ago, as dusk was falling, and furled in quite a bit of genoa - it had to be let out again fairly soon after because we dropped speed to almost nothing - but when I looked back at the cloud we'd just passed under, after our speed had picked up again, it had become part of a long line of dark grey cloud - busy with heavy downpours along its entire length!

Found two more small squid, one hidden in the cockpit - from yesterday... no wonder there had been a fishy smell!

Had to get out several towels the other day, to lean on and lie down on. Humidity is so high, I need to lean my arm and wrist on a towel when writing, to prevent the logbook from becoming really wet...!I

When I came on deck to check cloud cover and swell for my 3pm (2300GMT) weather report, I stayed for quite a time, watching three boobies (red-footed?) diving into the sea for fish and then resting on the surface while they swallowed them - small ones, it seemed. Have seen boobies fairly often the last few days - distinctive immature ones among them, with brown mottling, not the clean black and white patterning of the mature birds.

Looking at latest satellite picture of clouds around the ITCZ, seems we're doing OK - no strong convection where we are, nor where we're headed, although some off to the west... which is the direction it all moves in, so not a problem. Still quite likely to get the occasional squall, though. The line of the ITCZ, according to today's weather reports, is around 8N hereabouts. We're at 8deg 30'N just now, so clearly in the ITCZ region.

We got into a W-flowing current today, as compared with the NE-E-flowing current of yesterday, and the strong N-flowing current of previous days.

24hr DMG at 3pm: 116 n.ml. (we've not been setting any speed records while trying to aim for a less-active section of the ITCZ!);Golden Gate Bridge 1750n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2400n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 907 n ml SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 550 n.ml due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1590 ml to the SE!

Written by : Mike

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